Today we’re excited to bring you this interview with Latina media dynamo and women’s empowerment advocate, Nely Galán.
Galán is an Emmy Award winning producer, an advocate for gender equity, a successful entrepreneur, a real estate mogul, an inspiring teacher, speaker and consultant, a mother… and above all, she is SELF MADE.
Dubbed the “Tropical Tycoon” by The New York Times Magazine, Galán is one of the entertainment industry’s most savvy influencers. Through passion, hard work and determination Galán worked her way up to become the first female president of U.S. television network, Telemundo Entertainment and throughout her career she produced over 700 episodes of television in English and Spanish. She was also the first Latina ever to appear on “Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump” on NBC showing, on national television, that a multi-cultural woman’s place is in the boardroom.
After becoming self-made on her own terms, Galán has made it her mission to teach women – regardless of age or background – how they too can become entrepreneurs. Her book, SELF MADE: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way, is inspired by the new revolution in women’s entrepreneurship led by multicultural women. ~ Rachel
1. How are you doing what you love?
When I travel around the country meeting women with brilliant ideas and plans for transforming their lives, knowing I can help bring them closer to their dream affirms my belief that I’m doing the right thing with my life. The idea that they can find money to get started with their business without necessarily going into major debt or risking everything, that’s when I know that I’m on a mission, a dream I’ve had for many years.
2. What was life like growing up?
My parents were immigrants from Cuba who worked very hard to make ends meet. It was a classic, old-school American story: I studied day and night and went to a Catholic school. I loved every minute of my formal education, but the lessons I learned outside of school were just as important. I became an entrepreneur at 14 when I started selling Avon products at my high school – which is when I learned the important skill of being able to solve my own problems.
3. How old were you when you landed your first job doing something you were desperate to do, and what was it?
When I was 22, I took a job as a manager at a New York Spanish-language television station where I did everything, from developing the programming to meeting with the advertisers. I worked 24 hours a day, but I fell in love with the process of creating content for my community. When an insurance company bought out the station, I was devastated. “How can they not see my hard work?” I thought. I confronted my boss about it, and I’ll never forget what he told me about owning the company. “These are my chips. Get your own chips!” The first person that fired me told me this, and I’ve followed his advice ever since. If you’re going to get into the gamble of owning your own dream, the best thing you can do is control how much you’re putting in it, and what cards you’ll play to finally make it happen!
From that point forward I learned I had to take charge of my opportunities.
Speaking at Barnard College, Columbia University, March 2016
4. You are a pioneer in Latino media and a role model for women around the world. Tell us about your journey to becoming so successful in an industry dominated by men.
That’s easy for me. As an entrepreneur, and an immigrant, I’ve never been able to afford worrying about obstacles or discrimination. When you’re trying hard to make it, you don’t have time to worry about being a victim, frankly, because you have too much work to do. In every position I have ever taken, I made myself indispensable. Of course, there are issues that every woman has to face in the workplace, but I never had the time to stop and think about what was in my way. I just observed how successful people, male and female, behaved, and I did the same thing. I call it acting as if. If you contribute to a company’s bottom line, you’ll always do well, no matter what your ethnic or gender background may be.
5. Who or what have been your biggest teachers in life and what are the biggest lessons you learned from founding Galán Entertainment and being Former President, Telemundo Entertainment?
I have a long history of studying and learning from the genius entrepreneurs who came before me. When I interviewed to work for Rupert Murdoch, he told me I wasn’t corporate enough for the job. After meeting him and discussing my career, I learned he had to prove himself every step of the way – so I did too. He, Warren Buffet, and Sherry Lansing were role models after whom I modeled my career.
After I met Murdoch, I hired my own writers, created a show, and proved to him that I was capable. The most significant lesson is that you are the perfect architect for your destiny. If you map it out, with details, you make it happen, even when roadblocks and trouble comes down the road. It’s so tempting to give up, and I get that (I didn’t make a dime off my business for four years!). But if you sacrifice, even if everything gets wiped away, you can always start over and rebuild. If you know, in your gut, and in your business plan, that your idea will work, then why not put all the effort and the skill you’ve built, into creating it, despite setbacks?
6. What inspired you to start The Adelante Movement? What is your mission?
Latina women are a dynamic resource in the U.S; we are the fastest-growing market, and we start new businesses at six times the national rate. Our values naturally revolve around economic empowerment, community, and building family. Yet we are not trained to embrace wealth, opportunity, and abundance for ourselves or for those who rely on us. I feel profoundly inspired to travel the country, present workshops and create training resources that help my community grow. If women leave one of our Adelante sessions feeling inspired in any way to enhance their businesses, or to create a launch plan with a specific target date, than we’ve done our job.
7. As someone who has your own real estate development and investment company, you’re passionate about empowering women to be more proactive about their finances, saying: “don’t buy shoes, buy buildings.” Why do you believe that women everywhere would benefit from being “self-made”?
As women, we are always told that there’s someone else with authority, someone who can magically choose us, and simultaneously, dictate what is best for us. And yet, somehow, in our actions and our lifestyles, we know, deeply and inherently, that we are the only ones who can control our own paths and plan our futures. There is no Prince Charming; you are your own Prince Charming. It’s time for us to admit that our futures are in our hands, and that means taking control of our financial reality. We need to strategically plan our investments and our budgets, so that our savings reflect where we truly want to be. The bottom line? From experience, I can tell you that buildings pay off way more than any pair of shoes (even Louboutins!).
SELF MADE is a blueprint, a mindset, and a movement, but most of all it is a call to rise up and take ownership in ways big and small. You do not have to look up the ladder to find the self-made woman – you simply have to look around. She is everywhere. She’s the stay-at-home mom with a baby who runs an online boutique out of her apartment; the cleaning lady who books through her website and charges through PayPal; the freelance nurse who processes payments through Square; the franchise owner who employs her whole family; the corporate employee who sells her jewellery designs on Etsy; the empty nester who rents out rooms in her house through Airbnb; the baker who promotes her one-of-a-kind cakes on Instagram; the woman who makes Vine videos for corporations with her teenage child; the millennial who is paying off college by driving for Uber… The one thing all of these women have in common is that they are becoming self made. They are changing the economic future for themselves, for their families, and for generations to come.
This book is for every woman who has ever dreamed of owning her own business, with hopes of controlling her future and doing what she truly loves. Maybe she feels like it is unrealistic. Maybe she thinks she’ll never find the capital. SELF MADE is her toolkit to change all of that.
9. Why is living an entrepreneurial life is more attainable now than ever before?
With the sharing economy and platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, corporate sponsors, nonprofits, and government programs, women have more places to turn than ever before when it comes to finding capital for their startup dreams. It’s up to us to lean into work to manifest our dreams and research all that is out there. Women can get a jump-start and find various helpful resources at becomingselfmade.com.
10. What’s the secret for turning self-doubt, confusion, and fear into confidence, clarity and courage?
We all have moments of self doubt. It’s such a familiar place, it almost feels comfortable and accurate to think we’re wrong about our dreams! The best part about doubt and fear is that it contains a startling moment of clarity. I’ve come to make fear and failure my best friends. They show up so often, they are two trusted advisers, ready to take me to the next place in my life. Failure shows me I missed a key factor I need to help me get things right the next time. Fear is a feeling, like a jolt of adrenaline, here to show me there’s something I absolutely must do in order to grow. When you let both into your life, you quickly learn how your business will grow.
11. Talk us through a typical day in your life…
For me, work and being a mother go hand-in-hand, because by hustling the way I do, I pass the torch to my son, who learns by example what it means to create your own destiny. I wake up at 5am every single day. I believe morning time is ripe with possibility, so I max out those early hours to map out my day and knock priorities off the to-do list. I also believe in going to bed early and taking care of myself, so that I can be the best version of me when it’s go-time, which in my life, it often is. I get everything done by being practical, methodical and not wasting time on frivolities. That said, I also very much believe in the power and importance of down-time, which I like to spend with my family; and my dog, Desi, who I can’t live without.
12. What’s your mantra?
Choose Yourself. There are so many factors ready to pull you in another direction: your families’ needs; a romantic interest, your boss’s agenda, a profound desire to be chosen, and accepted, by someone, or something, you deeply respect or aspire to. But for me, the most important element of being self made is choosing yourself. Actually waking up every day, and writing what matters most to me right now, and how my agenda is fulfilling it, step by step, and why. [Tweet “Choosing yourself is the first step in becoming self-made.”]
13. What’s the ultimate dream for yourself, and for women as a whole?
The ultimate dream is to grow this movement and see more and more women like me find success and become SELF MADE. Becoming self-made is the new ticking clock! With so many resources at their disposal, it is our moment to become empowered, self-reliant and rich in every way. Rich in money, rich in family, rich in love, rich in time-abundance! It’s not just about having money, but financial empowerment is where it begins. It means getting out of survival mode. It means getting out of that state where you are just one problem away from financial catastrophe. It means changing your mindset from instant gratification to goal orientation. In time, it means being able to work because you want to and not because you have to. It means being able to reward yourself and your children with things like an education, trips, and owning a home. It means being able to sleep at night without worry.
14. What advice would you give anyone who isn’t doing what they love?
Find a way to slow things down and take stock of your life. Being rich in every way means enjoying life to to its fullest. What’s missing at the end of your days? How do you wish to grow in your current position? If you find a life coach, a therapist, or a mentor who can help you answer these questions, you’ll get closer to the deeper mission that will guide you to where you need to be.